Portal swept away by Coastal, Robert Toombs
Even on their best offensive day, the Portal boys still couldn’t catch a break.
The Panthers got three goals from their foreign exchange stud Aaron Sanchez to go up 3-1 in the 25th minute, but the young Panthers conceded five unanswered goals to fall to the Coastal Homeschool team 6-3 Monday evening.
According to coach Matt Haddock, it was one of the better offensive games of the year — but in the end it was conditioning that did his young squad in.
“We’ve had really good first halves all year,” Haddock said. “We go up and things just fall apart for us.”
The build up to Sanchez’s first goal saw the Portal offense move the momentum in their favor, as the Panthers were able to get off three shots in a row forcing saves by the Coastal keeper. Jonathan Bowen starred in the midfield sending passes over the defense and consistently finding one of two Sanchez’s — Aaron and Johnny.
Those through balls finally paid off when Aaron Sanchez found a ball on the home side of the field, squared up the ball just outside the box and rifled it with a hook past the diving keeper to equalize the game in the 17th minute.
Portal kept on the offensive with Coastal reeling on their heels. Sanchez would notch his second goal off a pass across the face of goal by Bowen. Bowen had dribbled the ball out of the corner to find Sanchez sitting unmarked next to the post for an easy put away to give Portal a 2-1 lead.
Not three minutes later Sanchez would have a hat trick wrapped up in less than 30 minutes of game play with another rifle from outside the box for the 3-1 lead. For Portal three goals was an offensive explosion, and even more impressive coming from one player.
“He’s a great guy to have,” Haddock said. “We’ve been waiting for him to hit his stride this year and he finally did it in this game.”
However that’s where the good things came to a halt for Portal. After initially making a great save on a shot, Jarrick Bostick couldn’t get up in time for a rebound finish by Coastal in the 24th minute. Then 12 seconds before the stroke of halftime Coastal would put home their third goal of the night — evaporating Portal’s lead in merely 15 minutes.
The second half saw no better fruit. While Sanchez’s Johnny and Aaron continued to put shots on goal — but all of them went directly at Coastal’s keeper. While the Hurricane’s keeper wasn’t going to be challenged again, Bostick experienced a much different second half.
Bostick was riddled with a number of shots, three of which came through for goals and ultimately sunk Portal. Inexperience got the best of the Panthers, but offensively it was a huge step forward.
“When my offensive guys are one, they’re on,” Haddock said. “We need some more consistent play from our outside guys if we’re going to take the next step.”
The Panthers are back in action Thursday when they face Trinity Christian School at 6 p.m.
Robert Toombs 5, Lady Panthers 0
They say year zero is the toughest year, and no one in Bulloch County knows that better than the Portal girls soccer team.
Monday afternoon saw a bizarre sight for a high school soccer game. The Portal girls already struggle with just 12 players on their roster, but since they were down a player both Portal and Robert Toombs were forced to play eight-per-side soccer and 30- minute halves.
Unfortunately for the young Panthers, the shortened numbers and halves didn’t prove to be an advantage as Robert Toombs walked away with an easy 5-0 victory.
“Having some of our better defenders hurt today didn’t help,” Haddick said. “This is the first time we’ve been shutout all year, so I know numbers didn’t help with that either.”
It’s no secret Portal is raw by soccer standards. Robert Toombs played their goalie a clear 15 yards outside of the box — meaning anytime Portal could develop some semblance of an offensive push the keeper would just play up and boot the ball away.
In Portal’s defense, only three of their 12 players have actually played soccer before. Nine are still wet behind the ears from a footballing standpoint, which is why this isn’t a standard “year one” scenario for the Panthers.
“We only started in January,” said coach Shannon Davis. “So many of these girls have played soccer for less than four months their entire life.”
Coaches Shannon Davis and Matt Haddick are still teaching a majority of the team basic fundamentals such as dribbling, passing or simply learning the flow of a high school soccer game. Once you see the product, it’s actually a surprise they beat Claxton 3-2 a couple of weeks ago for the first win in program history.
And even while there are plenty of rough patches within Portal’s team, there are a few bright spots coaches can hang their hats on. Madison Miles — who scored two of the goals against Claxton — is consistently active in the midfield and is Portal’s only real creator on offense.
Miles was able to find some runs against Toombs Monday afternoon, but with no one else around her to pass she was often left high and dry in the Robert Toombs half of the field. But Davis knows Miles — even with this being her senior year — has laid some sort of foundation for future success in Portal.
“Madison has never played soccer before either, but you’d never know it watching her,” Haddick said. “She’s great to have around the younger girls.”
On the other hand, freshman Kolbie Motes looks to be a moldable keeper for the next three years. After being a contributor for Portal’s softball and basketball teams, Motes looks like she could have her biggest impact on the pitch.
Motes is new to the concept of being a goalkeeper. Positioning, communication and being aggressive are all new aspects of the position she’ll have to learn. But as a good athlete she’s already able to make saves most keepers at the class A level can’t. Against Robert Toombs alone she had six saves.
“Kolbie has only been a this for a month, she didn’t come to us until mid-February because of basketball,” Haddick said. “But she’s been huge for us this year.”
Portal still has a long ways to go on the pitch, but in year zero things could be worse than being 1-5-0. The Panthers will get their next crack at a possible win on Thursday when they face Trinity Christian School at 4 p.m.
Chris Stanley may be reached at (912) 489-9408.